Roster Reset: We're on to free agency ...

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Post by 112288 Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:28 pm

ESPNBOSTON

Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer

Two days removed from the NBA Draft, how are you feeling Boston Celtics fans? Has the sting of being unable to move up (not from a lack of trying) worn off a bit? Are you ready to embrace Boston's top pick Terry Rozier (Damian Lillard offered an All-Star's stamp of approval on Saturday) and the rest of the team's four-player haul?

We're only four days away from the start of free agency. So let's reset the roster, crunch Boston's current cap commitments, and set the table for what lies ahead:

Guaranteed contracts for the 2015-16 season

Gerald Wallace -- $10.1 million

Avery Bradley -- $7.7 million

Isaiah Thomas -- $6.9 million

Marcus Smart -- $3.4 million

Evan Turner -- $3.4 million

Tyler Zeller -- $2.6 million

Jared Sullinger - $2.3 million

Kelly Olynyk -- $2.2 million

Terry Rozier -- $1.8 million

James Young -- $1.7 million

RJ Hunter -- $1.1 million

Including Boston's two first-round picks (Rozier, Hunter) at 120 percent of the rookie scale (the Celtics almost exclusively give the max possible), Boston is currently committed to $43.2 million for 11 players. Remember that seven of those players are on reasonable rookie scale deals. Wallace clogs up nearly a quarter of the total commitment, but there's options to loosen that jam if cap space is needed moving forward. Sullinger and Zeller are eligible for extensions, but both would seem unlikely at the moment.

The main thing to remember here: The salary cap is projected to jump to $67.1 million next season. That means that, even with the current 11-player guarantee, the team has around $24 million to work with. That number will shrink a bit due to other commitments (but there's ways to clear more room with Wallace's situation).

The Crowder Conundrum

The Celtics will extend a $1.2 million qualifying offer to make forward Jae Crowder a restricted free agent to start the summer. It's likely they'll work hard to find a number that both sides are comfortable with and attempt to lock in a deal soon after July 1 (think Avery Bradley's speed negotiations last summer). Crowder's raise will bite into Boston's overall cap space, but the team has maintained that he's a priority and the Celtics will desire to avoid any sort of bidding war that could sap time and money for their summer efforts.

Nothing is guaranteed

Third-year guard Phil Pressey finds himself in an awkward spot after a draft in which Boston added three guards. His modest $947,000 contract for next season doesn't become guaranteed until July 15, which means the Celtics will get a chance to both examine their newcomers and explore free agency before deciding whether to carry Pressey. Babb is in a similar situation with no guarantee date on his deal. Both Babb and Pressey could be trade fodder with the receiving team able to waive them for slight salary relief.

Jordan Mickey, Boston's 33rd pick in Thursday's draft, will get a chance to play his way onto this year's roster (and a minimum contract would cost only $525,000 next season). Marcus Thornton, the Celtics' final draftee this year at No. 45, faces longer odds and seems more likely to spend a year overseas or in the D-League, but will also have a chance to introduce himself at summer league.

Finally, there is Colton Iverson, the 2013 second-round pick who has spent the past two years playing overseas (Turkey and Spain). The 7-footer will attend his third summer league with Boston looking to show he's made the strides necessary to warrant roster consideration. Boston's depth after the free agency process will likely dictate just how many players in this group will stick on next year's roster.

Free agents aren't free

As much as the Boston fan base would love to see Luigi Datome back, his fate might have been sealed with the addition of sharpshooting Hunter. Boston will enter the offseason with the rights to Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko, but prohibitive cap holds (to the tune of $18+ million) will force them to renounce those rights quickly if they pursue a big-ticket free agent. If the Celtics do elect to go the cap space route -- and there's always the chance they elect to stay over the cap -- they'll need to renounce a whole bunch of former players that linger on the books (and that the team hasn't had reason to otherwise clear).

Wallace's future

Forgive us for repeating ourselves from earlier posts, but there are essentially three options with Wallace: (1) Endure his high cap hit for one more season and then clear him completely from the books; (2) Trade him to a team seeking future cap relief, but it will likely cost Boston a draft pick; (3) Utilize the stretch provision to stretch Wallace's $10.1 million hit over the next three seasons. Ultimately, Boston's decision will hinge on whether it needs additional funds to pursue free agents. If the Celtics elect to stay over the cap, it might be better to ride it out with Wallace.

Depth perception

So let's assume the Celtics keep Crowder; Pressey and Babb are squeezed out by the roster crunch; Iverson and Thornton remain in limbo with likely stash status; and Wallace hangs around while Boston figures out whether it needs more space to hook a big fish. Boston's rough heading-into-the-summer 13-man depth chart looks a bit like this:

PG: Smart, Thomas, Rozier

SG: Bradley, Young, Hunter

SF: Turner, Crowder, Wallace

PF: Sullinger, Olynyk

C: Zeller, Mickey

OK, so what happens now?

The best-case scenario for Boston is to fill out its depth chart by adding an impact player or two. The tough part is figuring out who that might be and how to get them here. Many of the biggest names on the free agent market are likely to either re-sign with their current team or be more intrigued by other situations (including the cream of the big-man crop in Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and DeAndre Jordan). That might force Boston to chase a lower tier of talent.

Fortunately for Boston, they have multiple avenues to pursue players. The Celtics can target guys a bit below the elite of this year's free agent class (Greg Monroe?) Or make an early run at restricted free agents (Tobias Harris?) while other teams are focused elsewhere.

Then there is the trade route. Boston still has a gaggle of trade exceptions that it will have to otherwise renounce if it desires maximum cap room. Armed with those exceptions, young talent, and draft picks that weren't moved on Thursday, the Celtics still have the ammunition to at least make teams consider a move (Philly has three young centers; Indy seemingly wants to move Roy Hibbert).

While many emerged frustrated from Boston's inability to move up in Thursday's draft, there's still plenty of opportunities to add talent. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has stressed that the roster in October is unlikely to look as it does now.

But one key is patience. Even as the fan base seems to grow a bit impatient -- their expectations maybe unintentionally elevated in recent summers -- it's important that Ainge doesn't make a reactionary move to pacify a vocal minority. The Celtics spent two years building their pile of draft picks and assets and waited two decades for honest-to-goodness cap space. These situations cannot be misplayed if you desire to be a longstanding contender.

Any fans still bitter from Thursday ought to be reinvigorated next week when free agency opens. The Celtics will be a big part of the rumors and speculation, and when top names are spotted passing through Logan Airport or near the team's training facility in Waltham, Celtics fans will cause an Internet meltdown.

Ainge and his front office are ready for what lies ahead. Just like with the draft, they've been working towards this process for a long time. Hours after the draft ended, Ainge's staff was back prepping for July 1. The Celtics' training facility will be full of activity at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday when staffers can make their first contact with prospective targets.

A sleep-deprived Ainge stood at a podium inside the Seaport Hotel after Thursday's draft and pledged to improve the roster when free agency arrived.

"Our roster isn’t complete," he said. "If you’ve learned anything, that’s one thing you should know -- what you see today is not what you’ll see tomorrow. We’re a team that’s building for a championship and we’ll continue to do that by trying to find the best players we can."

Yes, Ainge could have just taken a page out of Bill Belichick's playbook after the draft, stepped to the podium and snorted, "We're on to free agency."

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Post by Sam Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:43 pm

A pretty good overview of the situation.  And, true to recent coverage, no mention of Robin Lopez, who I believe is a much more realistic solution to the Celtics' center needs than the litany of more high profile, but more likely unattainable, "usual suspects."

Unlike the draft, in which I believe Danny's options were extremely limited at best, he now has some wiggle room—at least in terms of assets.  The rest of the summer could hinge on how good a salesman he is as much as on the true value of the assets he may have at his disposal.

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Post by steve3344 Sun Jun 28, 2015 4:44 am

Nice little thumbnail on the top 40 free agents:

http://nypost.com/2015/06/27/the-top-40-nba-free-agents-and-where-theyll-end-up/

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Post by kdp59 Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:04 am

Sam,

I was wondering if you thought the Celtics had a real chance at getting Robin Lopez?

I don't myself (though he fits the bill, IMO) because he's a west coast guy from California AND mostly because I think Portland will OVERPAY to keep him once Aldridge bolts.
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Post by 112288 Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:16 am

Portland got Plumlee for that reason, Lopez will be gone.

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Post by kdp59 Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:52 am

Really?

so you think Aldridge and Lopez will both leave?

interesting.

Plumlee is a nice rotation backup at PF and Center to me, but not starting material.

In fact I would have been OK with us getting him for our #28 pick this year.

maybe Portland is blowing it all up though, they did send out Batum (who under achieved at his price point) for Vonleh and Henderson.

but do you think they would seriously want to go with Plumlee and Vonleh as their top big men next year?

ouch!

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Post by bobheckler Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:15 pm

kdp59 wrote:Really?

so you think Aldridge and Lopez will both leave?

interesting.

Plumlee is a nice rotation backup at PF and Center to me, but not starting material.

In fact I would have been OK with us getting him for our #28 pick this year.

maybe Portland is blowing it all up though, they did send out  Batum (who under achieved at his price point) for Vonleh and Henderson.

but do you think they would seriously want to go with Plumlee and Vonleh as their top big men next year?

ouch!



kdp,

Unlike Aldridge, Lopez has said nothing about leaving or wanting to leave. Portland has a lot of cap room if/when Aldridge leaves. I don't see Lopez leaving. Too bad.


bob



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Post by bobheckler Wed Jul 01, 2015 5:59 pm

This is an ongoing roster update.  As players are traded or signed it will be updated.  Players under guaranteed contract only.  Non-guaranteed contracts, RFAs, etc will be added when applicable.




5 - Zeller, Olynyk ($2.6M + $2.2M)
4 - Johnson, Jerebko, Sullinger ($12M + $5M + $2.3M)
3 - Turner, Young, Wallace ($3.4M + $1.7M + $10.1M)
2 - Bradley, Hunter*** ($7.7M + $1.1M)
1 - Smart, Thomas, Rozier*** ($3.4M + $6.9M + $1.8M)


***Assuming both first round picks will be signed.




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Post by Sam Wed Jul 01, 2015 6:19 pm

kdp,

I think it till be difficult to attract Lopez, and I'd be happy with him or Koufos.  Unlike some of the higher-profile centers, I'd put Robin in the "What the heck, let's give it a try" category.  I wouldn't bother at all with the upper echelon while the more realistic candidates slip away.

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Post by steve3344 Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:16 am

http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/report-celtics-no-longer-pursuing-tobias-harris?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+RssTopHeadlines+%28rss+top+headlines%29

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Post by kdp59 Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:37 am

no room for Harris now Steve.

thank you Amir Johnson.....you better be a BIG upgrade over Bass.

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Post by kdp59 Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:14 am

OK reports say Crowder signed 5yr/$35M deal now.

http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/no-big-fireworks-cs-add-three-day-one-free-agency?p=ya5nbcs&ocid=yahoo

that means we are done except any trades Ainge can make.


your Celtics roster today:

C- Zeller
C/PF- Olynyk
C/PF- A. JOhnson
C/PF- J. Mickey
PF- Sullinger
PF- Jerebko
PF/SF- Crowder
SF- Wallace
SF/G- Turner
SF/SG- Young
SG- Bradley
SG- RJ Hunter
G- Smart
G- Thornton
PG- Thomas
PG- T. Rozier
PG- Pressey


17 players by my count, which mean at least TWO will be gone (Thornton and Pressey?).


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Post by bobheckler Thu Jul 02, 2015 9:31 am

kdp59 wrote:OK reports say Crowder signed 5yr/$35M deal now.

http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/no-big-fireworks-cs-add-three-day-one-free-agency?p=ya5nbcs&ocid=yahoo

that means we are done except any trades Ainge can make.


your Celtics roster today:

C- Zeller
C/PF- Olynyk
C/PF- A. JOhnson
C/PF- J. Mickey
PF- Sullinger
PF- Jerebko
PF/SF- Crowder
SF- Wallace
SF/G- Turner
SF/SG- Young
SG- Bradley
SG- RJ Hunter
G- Smart
G- Thornton
PG- Thomas
PG- T. Rozier
PG- Pressey


17 players by my count, which mean at least TWO will be gone (Thornton and Pressey?).




kdp,

You left Chris Babb off the list, which is understandable. His contract is identical to Pressey's, so if Pressey's on the list...

Thornton will definitely be gone, Danny has already come out and said he'll either be in Europe or D-League.


bob


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Post by kdp59 Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:20 am

oh yeah Babb

thanks Bob...i thnk...LOL.

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Post by wide clyde Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:40 am

I think that Johnson is going to have to have a great season with the Cs to stay on the roster for 1) the second year of his contract or 2) even last the entire first season with the team.

He will be an expiring contract player as soon as free agents signed in July are eligible to be traded. So, in December (I think) he could be traded to anyone who might be looking to take on his expiring contract.

I am sure that Bass would not have signed the same type of contract for just these reasons.

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